November 10th, 2008
11:32 AM ET

Where are the good family films?

Seems like Hollywood can put out anything family oriented and get a huge return.

"Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" had a phenomenal opening weekend.

“Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” was the No. 1 movie at the weekend box office last weekend. The sequel to 2005’s “Madagascar” made $63.5 million, outdoing its predecessor by almost $20 million, on a regular weekend in early November - not a holiday weekend when kids are out of school, like the first “Madagascar.” And the film did so with middling reviews (though, it should be noted, slightly better reviews than the first film got - the sequel earned 60 percent good reviews on, up from 55 percent for “Madagascar”).

Family films are regular cash cows for Hollywood - even if they’re mediocre. “Kung Fu Panda” topped the benchmark of $200 million; “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” which received some scathing reviews, was the top film in the country for two weeks.

Can’t the movies do better? We want to know what you think. Comment below or click on iReport and submit an entry.

Seems to me that great family films are the exception, not the rule - but they don’t have to be. Pixar takes great care with its releases, such as this year’s “Wall-E”; the “Ice Age” films have some of the manic invention of old Warner Bros. cartoons. And yet the majority of family films are glorified TV specials, lacking wit and warmth. Kids are better served watching reruns of “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

OK, so Pixar- or Disney-level quality isn’t everything when it comes to family films. All a parent with an energetic 6-year-old wants is something entertaining for 90 minutes, a chance for a little family time. Still, it doesn’t seem to be asking too much to want better scripts and fewer cheap pop-culture (or poop culture) jokes. (Come to think of it, it would be nice if that could be true for all films.)

So send in your thoughts, comments or complaints. We’ll revisit the topic Thursday with some of the best responses.

- Todd Leopold, Entertainment Producer

Filed under: movies

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soundoff (170 Responses)
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  3. genf20plus reviews

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    December 8, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Roulet

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    September 28, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Automaten spielen

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    June 14, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
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    Wirklich ein super Post. Ich sollte mal haufiger lesen

    April 14, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Amelia

    I wish hollywood producers would see all these comments. They would make a TON more money if they simply produced more wholesome family films.

    I used to love going to the movies a lot, but haven't gone in years since they've gotten so trashy and depressing. Living wild with so called freedom, hurting others and yourself, doesn't make you happy–and neither does watching people doing so.

    I'd rather see people making a difference in the world. Exciting adventures overcoming great obstacles.

    December 19, 2008 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Don of the Dead

    Want great family films?

    The Iron Giant
    The Princess Bride
    The Original Star Wars films

    November 20, 2008 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. moviefan

    Another reason why most kids movies, in addition to some summer blockbusters, suck these days is because the producers just want to them marketable. Look at Live Free or Die Hard, a good movie, but it wasn't the same as the previous Die Hard films. Seeing John McClane not swear anymore was dissapointing, plus the violence was less graphic just because the idiotic producers, who care about nothing but money, wanted a PG-13 action film, instead of being true to the series, and making an R-rated sequel. I hope they don't do this with Beverly Hills Cop IV coming out in a couple of years. Films like Batman and Robin (one of the worst films of all time), was just made for marketing. It lacked Tim Burton's dark vision of Batman in the first two films, just because the stupid producers just wanted a Batman film to be more kid-friendly. The writer didn't focus on the plot by adding unintentionally hilarious and cheesy dialogue for Arnold Schwarzenneger, and the director, Joel Schumacher, did a lazy job directing, just because the crew was being impatient, and was focusing on marketing, while they were filming.

    November 14, 2008 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jj

    I thought that everybody was frightened of the flying monkeys in "The Wizard of Oz."

    November 14, 2008 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jj

    Why not read your children the classics like "Black Beauty," take them only to movies with quality reviews, go for hikes with them, and do hobbies with them. Part of the message of "WALL-E" was that the people of Earth became fat and lazy because all they did all the time was watch their screens. I agree that children do not have to be protected scrupulously from violence (re: "Bambi" and all fairy tales). They need to learn how to live a full life, and books, quality films, exercise, and pasttimes will all help provide that.

    November 14, 2008 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Matthew

    I feel the need to point out that a movie doesn't have to contain adult situations, language, etc. to actually be good. Making a movie for kids is no excuse for sacrificing quality. It's horrible that studios take advantage of childrens ignorance to turn a nice profit. Disney and Pixar are more or less the only studios left that actually manage to keep standards up while the rest of the world makes stupid talking animal films over and over and over again.

    November 14, 2008 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Grant Lingel

    Am I getting something wrong here? Is this guy complaining that children's movies have lousy scripts? Is he saying Pixar and Disney are just pumping movies out as quickly as possible to make a buck?

    Well, to simply answer your question about why scripts for kid's movies are sub-par . . . they are for kids! Are you really that influenced by what a few critics say? Some of the greatest films of all time were destroyed by critics. And again, we are talking family/children films. You get a group of children to be critics for something like Madagascar and there will be thumbs up all over the place.

    Put a child in front of a television playing a movie like The Usual Suspects or Shawshank Redemption and they'll have no idea what the hell is going on.

    Children's movies are unique. They are special and create worlds that inspire young children to dream and think and be creative. I remember with only the fondest of memories my childhood and my obsession with great films like Aladdin, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid.

    These films aren't meant to be enjoyed by all adults. Clearly, some will absolutely have a great time at the cinema with their children watching something silly like Ice Age and others won't. It doesn't mean that it is a bad film.

    But the question here is why does it matter if the scripts aren't Oscar worthy? Who cares? Definitely not the children because they'll drag you back to the same silly film a dozen times before having you buy them a copy on DVD.

    People are thinking too much these days. Let the kid movies be for the kids and if you're unhappy with the scripts and the dialogue of a movie made for children, go see something more suitable for your age. Don't complain and rain all over millions of children's parades by saying their movies are lame. That my friend is lame.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Allison

    Does anyone else remember "Milo and Otis"? That was a great little movie.

    I think it's all going to depend on your individual kids. Something that terrifies one kid (like the kids who have nightmares of the flying monkeys in "Wizard of Oz" might have no effect on someone else.

    And to the mother who was appalled by the "fighting" in "Kung Fu Panda" - really? I'm 30, but I don't think you have to be that old to pick up that the bad guy was the one who wanted to destroy the village. Fighting for fighting's sake is stupid, and while I felt my IQ drop a few points while watching the movie, I don't think the message of rising to the occasion and teammates coming together was a bad thing.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:01 am | Report abuse |
  18. moviefan

    I wasn't here during the '70's and '80's, but I grew up on films like Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T. All three films mentioned are great (the latter two are on among my all-time favorite films). Those movies were not made for children, but for everyone and were made in a way that suprisingly found an audience among children in addition to adults. Nowadays, writers of kids movies write films the wrong way. They write a movie only for kids, then they put silly in-jokes just to please the adults. The only movies successful at doing that were SOME of the Dreamworks animated films (Shrek 1 & 2, Shark Tale, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, etc.) The only two Dreamworks films I dislike were Shrek 3 (it was boring and dull), and Bee Movie (which was also boring and dull), which had some adult jokes, that I felt were a little too adult. Just see the movie for yourself. The only company today that makes family movies like the classics I mentioned is Pixar.

    I also grew up on many Disney classics (made back when Disney was good) and '90's kids movies. What I mean by '90's kids movies are those that weren't huge at the box office or liked by critics, but one that had a good hidden message, even though many had rude humor, but it was funny. It wasn't fart or poop jokes every five seconds. Movies I'm talking about are ones like Little Giants, Dennis the Menace, The Mighty Ducks, etc. An underrated one is Heavyweights, made by Disney. Though it had many fat and rude jokes, but it had a very good message about body image. In fact, this had Ben Stiller, before Madagascar and Night at the Museum. It was also co-written by Judd Apatow, who is known obviously for raunchy R-rated comedies like Superbad (which was great, but definately not a family movie). He did a kids movie! And it was good, regardless of what people say. Many of these films are ones families should pick up at the video store, instead of spending $9.50 a person for a piece of garbage like High School Musical 3.

    November 13, 2008 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Amanda

    I am not a parent yet myself, but I am a nanny and former teacher, and I can tell you that what kind of media a child is exposed to (and how much) definitely makes a difference. A few years ago, I watched a music video extra on one of the Shrek DVDs with 7 & 9 year-old girls. The 9 year-old was smart enough to figue out that with the song's rhyming scheme, the next word in the song should have been ass, but was replaced with another word. She thought that it was hilarious, and yelled out. "They should have said 'a-s-s'!" (She spelled the word aloud, but wouldn't actually say it.) It is a minor example, but a good indication of just how little respect Hollywood has for parents and caregivers.

    November 12, 2008 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Joanne, Edmonton Alberta

    When I was a kid, my parents took me to see "The Cat from Outer Space" and "ET". Now my neice wants to see the latest installment of "Saw". We've raised a generation of kids who have no attention span and an addiction to violence - is it no wonder than any film with a plot and no/little violence doesn't sell? NB as a related issue, my neice and all of her friends don't read, either. Doesn't anyone pick up a book anymore? Nope. Too boring and too confusing. Sigh.

    November 12, 2008 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Matt

    I just wanted to point out that Wall-E, like all Pixar films, was not made for children, but for everyone. Pixar, if you know anything about the company (which apparantly no one here does), is a company that considers itself in the business of filmmaking primarily, and they happen to work in the field of animation. I am sick of people equating animation with children. Wall-E is the best film released all year this year, by ANY STUDIO, and it deserves to be respected as such. It's not a children's film, it's a film, period.

    And for all of you who think no good "adult" movies are made without mass murders and torture, etc, etc, maybe you should broaden your horizons by not paying attention to the mainstream advertising. You would be surprised by how many great films are made and released each year that do exactly what you claim they don't do. See "All the Real Girls" and "Chop Shop", which have some moments in them, admittedly, but you know what? You're an adult, these are adult films, so grow up and welcome to the real world.

    November 12, 2008 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Sue

    Yes I feel that Hollywood needs to work harder at producing some excellent quality, good wholesome family films. Where are all the good quality movies like in the past? Especially with the holiday season upon us, it would be nice to see some lovely quality movies. Maybe I am just old fashioned but I enjoyed old movies like "The Bells of St. Mary's" with Bing Crosby and the old Christmas movies like that. Too many shows today have so much violence in them. The quality level has really deteriorated and that is why I prefer to see live productions at theatre of quality family shows. I like a lot of the old classics. It would be terrific to see some movies that value the family and show good manners and positive qualities....instead of violence or people walking around half naked or using foul language. Try bringing things up to that higher ground!!

    November 12, 2008 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  23. Bobbie Lewis

    Had to respond to Michael, as one of those 'spineless parents'. It is rather a sad commentary on life that you have if you feel that the movies that continually contain never ending content of disgusting language, sex for no reason or every possible reason, and of course, let's just kill everyone and everything, are true depictions of most people's everyday life.
    I don't think anyone needs to watch that on a regular basis, whether they are childless or not. Movies like the Sound of Music, which is actually based on a true story (go figure), during a horrific period of history will always remain classic, timeless movies. Why? There are morals, values, and lessons, and you truly feel good after watching it.
    Yes, as parents we need to monitor what our children watch, and yes we have to explain all of the horrible things that go on in our world, even right next door. It would be nice though, if the movies did not have to continually glamorize the evil which is already in our daily lives. My kids have seen movies like 'Saving Private Ryan', which was brutal and horrific, but true. It gave us a lot to talk about and to research. Did they see it when they were young, no, all over the age of 13. (They are now 16-20). Did they like it, yes. But they also like 'Veggie Tales', 'Beauty and the Beast', 'Ratatouille' and even 'HSM 3' They have chosen, all on their own to not watch movies with F...this as every second word, or movies with sex in them. Do they know this is happening in the real world, sure they do. But do they have to see it as their entertainment, NO.
    We love to watch movies as a family, and are thrilled when an appropriate one comes to the theatre. My children have been watching movies in the theatre since they were 2. They were not 'miss fussy cry', because they knew what the expectation was. If it was a bad day, then we walked out, because it was not fair to others.
    I hope I can keep taking my children, and grandchildren to the theatre to watch 'family' entertainment for a long time to come. I hope your children will have that privilege as well.

    November 11, 2008 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  24. TurningWorm

    I'm not sure you can even judge family films in this context. I think studios get way off track when they try to make "family films" that will garner them critical acclaim. Disney did this when they stopped making fun movies and started trying to win Oscars. Great films like "The Little Mermaid" and "Alladin" turned into over-produced and pretentious flap like "Pocahontas" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". Even Pixar strayed over this line last year with "Ratatouille", which was LOVED by critics, but slept through by every kid I know. Even worse is when a studio tries to "sell" a movie to kids that is NOT a family movie. This summer's "The Clone Wars" was an excellent example. (see also Transformers, The Dark Knight) Put simply, kids and critics are opposite breeds. Kids love simple plots, physical comedy and exaggerated characters, none of which are accepted qualities of fine cinema. Repeat after me folks, it's for THEM not for ME...

    November 11, 2008 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Doug

    I agree that the constant string of body function humor is nauseating and some are really scary (Spiderwick, anyone?), but people too often equate "family" with "Christianity" and close their minds to a vast world of valuable tales in morality.

    Some of the best children's movies come from Hayao Miyazacki at Studio Gibli in Japan – "Spirited Away", "Princess Monoake", "Howl's Moving Castle". Beautiful and moving for both children and adults, they are filled with messages about our gluttony and resolving our ecological devastation. Only Americans films like "Wall-E" and "The Iron Giant" have come close to their originality and relevance.

    November 11, 2008 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  26. Jim Judy

    As someone who reviews movies for parents (, I've always wondered why Pixar and a handful of other films are the only ones that mix family friendliness with high artistic quality. While our reviews are all about reporting what might be potentially objectionable, we also point out when the movies are terrific or just poorly made. It's too bad there can't be more of the former and less of the latter.

    November 11, 2008 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  27. Pinky

    Thank you, people!! I had begun to feel that perhaps I was the only one who felt that HOLLYWOOD was running wild with all the garbage films! I don't want to see violence! I don't want to see sex! I want to see ENTERTAINMENT that is wholesome and has a PLOT where someone doesn't get blown up, stabbed to death, thrown in a garbage dump, etc.. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, HOLLYWOOD!!

    November 11, 2008 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  28. jason

    Family films suck, Never cared for the "old ones" that keep being brought up. Personally I hand my son a book rather then a DVD but to each his own. If you all want to brain wash your children with T.V. and Movies then so be it. It just means fewer people at the book store.

    November 11, 2008 at 6:05 am | Report abuse |
  29. Jason

    Good Family movies are .... Are we there yet?,Finding Nemo,Aladdin,Adventures in babysitting,The Goonies, The Lost Boys
    Are we done Yet ?, Home Alone 1,2, E.T. , Forrest Gump, The War,Lord of the rings ,Starwars,Rescuers Down under,Shrek,Robin Hood,Most Classic Disney film,Encino man,Father in law ,Little Giants,Little Rascals,Daddy day care,Homeward Bound,All the disney Made for Tv Movies,The Flinstones Movie,How the grinch stole christmas, A ChristMas Story, Nightmare before christmas, James and the giant peach,Big Fish,Chicken Run,Chicken Little,Joe Dirt,Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles, 3 Ninjas,Apollo 13 (1995)

    some list from somewhere !

    1. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
    2. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
    3. The African Queen (1951)
    4. Apollo 13 (1995)
    5. Babe (1995)
    6. Back to the Future (1985)
    7. The Bad News Bears (1976)
    8. The Bear (1988)
    9. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
    10. Beetlejuice (1988)
    11. Big (1988)
    12. The Black Stallion (1979)
    13. Bound for Glory (1976)
    14. Breaking Away (1979)
    15. Bringing Up Baby (1938)
    16. The Buddy Holly Story (1978)
    17. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
    18. Casablanca (1942)
    19. Cat Ballou (1965)
    20. Chariots of Fire (1981)
    21. Chicken Run (2000)
    22. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
    23. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
    24. Dick Tracy (1990)
    25. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
    26. Duck Soup (1933)
    27. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
    28. Emma (1996)
    29. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
    30. Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
    31. Field of Dreams (1989)
    32. Fly Away Home (1996)
    33. Gandhi (1982)
    34. Ghostbusters (1984)
    35. The Gold Rush (1925)
    36. The Great Escape (1963)
    37. Great Expectations (1946)
    38. Groundhog Day (1993)
    39. A Hard Day's Night (1964)
    40. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
    41. High Noon (1952)
    42. The Iron Giant (1999)
    43. It Happened One Night (1934)
    44. James and the Giant Peach (1996)
    45. Jurassic Park (1993)
    46. The King and I (1956)
    47. King Kong (1933)
    48. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
    49. A League of Their Own (1992)
    50. Lilo & Stitch (2002)
    51. The Lion King (1994)
    52. Little Fugitive (1953)
    53. Little Man Tate (1991)
    54. The Little Mermaid (1989)
    55. A Little Princess (1995)
    56. Little Women (1994)
    57. The Longest Day (1962)
    58. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
    59. Lost Horizon (1937)
    60. The Magnificent Seven (1960)
    61. Mary Poppins (1964)
    62. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
    63. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
    64. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
    65. The Music Man (1962)
    66. My Fair Lady (1964)
    67. National Velvet (1944)
    68. Never Cry Wolf (1983)
    69. North by Northwest (1959)
    70. Peter Pan (1953)
    71. Pinocchio (1940)
    72. The Princess Bride (1987)
    73. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
    74. Rear Window (1954)
    75. Rocky (1976)
    76. The Rookie (2002)
    77. The Secret Garden (1993)
    78. The Secret of Roan Inish (1994)
    79. Shane (1953)
    80. Shrek (2001)
    81. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
    82. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
    83. Some Like It Hot (1959)
    84. The Sound of Music (1965)
    85. Spirited Away (2001)
    86. Star Wars (1977)
    87. Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)
    88. Sullivan's Travels (1941)
    89. Superman (1978)
    90. Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
    91. The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers (1974 and 1975)
    92. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
    93. Toy Story and Toy Story 2 (1995 and 1999)
    94. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
    95. Walkabout (1971)
    96. West Side Story (1961)
    97. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
    98. The Winslow Boy (1999)
    99. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
    100. Yellow Submarine (1968)

    November 11, 2008 at 5:23 am | Report abuse |
  30. Russell

    One of the best family movies I have seen lately is "The Ultimate Gift"
    If you haven't seen it, go find it. The message is great for kids of this generation. Like others, I thought August Rush was excellent.

    November 11, 2008 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
  31. M in G

    Here's a radical thought that I'm amazed no one else has mentioned: Turn your backs on Hollywood, don't accept the current load of BS they're turning out! Take your family hiking, fishing, to a museum, go to a place of historical relevance and explain to your kids why it's historical and how it impacts what we are today. Today is Veteran's Day, go to a cemetery (preferably a national cemetery) and view the soldiers' graves and ponder what they must have endured. Do you and your family realize that if it weren't for them there wouldn't even be a need to discuss this topic? Enrich your families' lives by doing these activities and then relax at the end of the day with one of the good vintage movie DVDs that some of you have already mentioned.

    November 11, 2008 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
  32. Bruce

    Two of the best family film our family has seem in recent years were directed by the same person – "My Dog Skip" and "The Water Horse." Both quality films which received great reviews. However, neither tore up the box office because of lack of promotion. There are other examples of really good films, but were not advertised that much. That is also a problem.

    November 11, 2008 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |
  33. Georgia Lee

    For quality family movies, I highly recommend you check out the Feature Films for Families website. Want a good laugh? Try "No More Baths."

    November 11, 2008 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
  34. Fionnuala Kerins

    I always loved Homeward Bound as a kid. There was so much humor all throughout the film that is still amusing even as an adult. The last scene where the old golden retriever Shadow beats the odds and makes it home to the human boy he loves so much is enough to melt the hardest of hearts. It has some really great messages for kids and isn't something cheesy that makes adults cringe at having to suffer through it.

    Other favorites are Free Willy, Old Yeller, The Lion King, Shrek, Harry and the Hendersons and Beauty and the Beast.

    November 11, 2008 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  35. Phil

    I think that the Hollywood establishment looks down upon traditional families and views them as unsophisticated and unhip. I think they feel that this gives them license to make any lame movie that they feel like because they know that families have nowhere else to go for movie entertainment.

    November 11, 2008 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  36. Doug

    posted two lines below your blog headline:

    "'Madagascar' sequel No. 1 at box office"

    Your own article mentions this, and yet your own title and article don't bother to suggest a better example in children's films.

    Given the fact that Jada Pinkett Smith and other actors in this film would not have donated their time and energy if this was not going to be a "good family film", your premise is severely lacking.

    November 11, 2008 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  37. Kathy

    We want better family films, something worth the enormous amount of money it now takes watch a film would be eagerly welcomed Honestly, while we used to be avid movie goers, now we go out about twice a year and are usually disappointed once. I would like to go out once a month if the quality of the films warranted it. And by quality, I do not mean special effects, as these have surely made their mark, but I mean script, character, cast, and morals/ values. Less body humor (the easy out for comedy) and more genuine fun and inspiration.

    November 11, 2008 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  38. Jamal

    I think kids are entertained by different things than they were ten years ago. I mean I loved the Sanlot when I was younger, and when I was watching it last week with Avery, it just seemed kinda cheesy.

    I heard a couple of parents ragging on Batman and Iron Man and that seems ridiculous. So the superheroes aren't a bunch of family friendly guys in colorful suits anymore. Isn't it a good thing that movies like the Dark Knight and Wall-E, both films with characters that are popular with children, are becoming more cerebral ?

    November 10, 2008 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Charlie

    There have been a lot of really good family films lately, you just have to pick and choose carefully to avoid snoozing off while the kids are entertained by fart jokes and cheap gags. I'm 25 and have fallen in love with "family" films all over again.

    Pixar specifically has stood out ever since their foray into animation with "Toy Story". They have been the gold standard for what a family-friendly animated film should be. "Wall-E", "Kung-Fu Panda", "Spirited Away", "Howl's Moving Castle", "Ratatouille"...the list goes on and on for animated films that parents can enjoy too. These have all received good reviews, and do a great job not relying on the formulaic dirty humor that studios seem to think entertains. It doesn't. There's only so far and so long that we, the audience, will put up with the same joke over and over. Case in point: the Shrek franchise. The first was brilliant with its spin on classic fairy tales. The second was not quite as fresh, but it kept us laughing. By the third, however, we were tired of recycled humor. My optimism is low for the fourth one.

    What we need is more unique ideas, and less sequels that rehash material. "Wall-E" was the perfect example of something fresh and unique, yet it felt timeless and classic. I let my girlfriend's 10-year old sister borrow "Howl's Moving Castle" and she and her friend loved it!

    So give the audiences what they want: more variety, more uniqueness, and less of the sort of derivative, formulaic trash that parents use to keep their kids entertained while they go do something else. Family films should be just that: films that can entertain the entire family.

    November 10, 2008 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Father-of-two

    How can the first "Madagascar" be classified as a family film when it shows a tied up hostage ship's captain being violently slapped in the face by the "good guys", just because they can? That certainly wasn't the type of family values I wanted promoted to my kids. Hopefully the new film is better.

    November 10, 2008 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  41. David

    There are a lot of great family films made that are not new films. Look in the Classics section of your movie store. They may be old films but if you've never seen them before they're new to you.

    November 10, 2008 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Karen

    My children love Mary Poppins, Toy Story, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Babe, Milo and Otis, The Princess Bride, Willow. I don't think that any of these movies are exclusively for children. They are entertaining and present good examples for children. The problem nowadays is that the people in charge of making "family entertaintment" movies many times don't even have a family of their own and don't know what they are expected to do. They don't realize that the most tame movies are the ones that have made the most money because families like good examples, innocence and values. They have to add some crude, rude remark because that is who they are. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Walt Disney's movies were innocent and had a sense of wonder and childish delight because he was like that. He knew what kids want in a film. Now Walt Disney's companies a run by MBAs with no clue about what kids minds and hearts are like.

    November 10, 2008 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Mickey

    I think it's silly to act like all the old family films were great, or like great family films were ever a dime a dozen. It's just that everybody remembers the really quality ones, and forgets the heap of mediocre movies that came out alongside them. For instance, think of the campy Robin Hood cartoon Disney made as basically a weak carbon copy of The Jungle Book.

    Meanwhile, we've been privileged to see movies like Wall-E, the Shrek films (maybe not the second one), March of the Penguins, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, Night at the Museum, and any number of other good family-type movies released in recent years. This sense of nostalgia may be popular, but it's rarely ever very accurate

    November 10, 2008 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Harry Kellerman

    The content on HBO family is by far the best children's content out there. I would highly recommend all titles by one director in particular: AMY SCHATZ. She's probably the most important person working in kids TV today. most recently she's done a series called Classical Baby, four installments, fusing elements of classical culture; famous classical music, art, dance, and poetry with some of the most beautiful animation I've ever seen. It's the first gift I buy friends with babies. I'm pretty sure one can go online and order her videos. compared to her work, everything else is just junk food for your kid's mind.

    November 10, 2008 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  45. chico

    I don't understand why parents think just because it is an animated movie, it's a kids movie. My kids (8 and 5) and I saw Madagascar 2 this weekend. Ohh, I almost forgot, we walked out half way into the movie. These animated movies are not for young children, they are made for teenagers. In Madagascar, the jokes were too mature, the word death or dying was mentioned too many times, there was also a kind of sexual content but in an innocent manner. I just don't get it! Parents are either not aware, in denial, or they don't want to waste all that money they spent to get in the movies. My kids just started going to the movies, now I understand why I kept them from going. Please, can someone please make a kids movies for kids and not for their parents or teenage sibling.

    November 10, 2008 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  46. ElSupremo

    Want family movies that are fun and teach values?

    Two words: Veggie Tales.

    Some will scream about the fact that many are based on biblical stories, but the lessons on ethics and morality are what all children need.

    November 10, 2008 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Liz

    I think Hollywood can definitely do better as far as family oriented movies go. One thing that would be a nice change is taking the disrespectful, bad attitudes OUT of the movies. You can see the way it affects kids today by their disrespectful attitudes when speaking to adults or even other kids for that matter. They could try to work with society in raising respectful kids rather than working against it by making movies that show being disrespectful as humorous and funny. Funny for who? We don't even watch the new Disney movies hardly ever because of the language, sexual innuendo and disrespectful attitudes they put in them now. The Disney of the past is definitely gone and I can't help but think Walt is rolling in his grave. Please someone make a decent movie that helps us raise children to be caring and respectful people. Stop working against the parents who care and want decent entertainment for their children.

    November 10, 2008 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  48. C

    Wouldn't recommend "Spong Bob" either, Todd. From worse to worser.

    November 10, 2008 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Kathy

    Well, I did see Wall-E and hated it - it was an indictment on laziness and hardly entertaining at all.

    I agree that Pixar makes some wonderful movies. I absolutely LOVED The Incredibles and Ratatouille was also wonderful.

    This weekend I took my teenaged son to see Madagascar 2 and thought the movie could have been so much better had the filmmakers focused more on plot and character development - there was so much to work with and the animation was stunning - a real missed opportunity.

    With the exception of the occasional Spiderman or Harry Potter flick, I often take my teenaged son to PG-13 adult flicks. We really loved Hairspray!

    November 10, 2008 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Adrienne

    I wish that family films wouldn't have ANY swear words. A few days before Halloween, my daughters wanted to watch a Casper film (live action) and I had to turn the TV back to Noggin after the opening scene, in which a woman swore twice. I don't want ANY suggestive content or dialogue, NO violence, and NO swearing in a family film. I don't care if I think the movie is interesting – as long as my 6 and 4 year olds are content with it, it's fine. I won't let them see Kung Fu Panda because it's all about fighting, which is stupid. Why glorify beating others up? I asked the neighbor boy who adores Kung Fu Panda why the "good guys" were fighting, and he said "to defeat the bad guys". I asked him "What makes the bad guys bad, and what makes the good guys good?", and he was clueless. Of course, he's six, but that's the point. He can't think that far ahead – he just sees what he's been told are good guys, and they're beating up the guys he was TOLD were bad guys. I wonder how wars get started...

    November 10, 2008 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Liz

    Both WALL-E and High School Musical 3 are good-natured, family films.
    WALL-E even includes an homage to an old Hollywood film.
    When I went to HSM 3, a bunch of kids were dancing out of the theater to the music over the ending credits!

    November 10, 2008 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Ivy

    Hands down the worst movie I've ever seen was Space Chimp. My son dragged me to that one and I barely made it through. It was so boring and bad-humored. Speed Racer was another one I hated. Not only did the special effects make me physically sick, I was dismayed that they say words like "suck" and give the middle finger in a movie for children.

    One that we really liked was Sky High. We rented that one a few weeks ago and they whole family really enjoyed it. I don't know why I had never heard about it before.

    November 10, 2008 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Erin

    Feature Films for Families has some great movies to watch with your family. You really have to look around. We loved The Little Vampire and Hayao Miyazaki movies too

    November 10, 2008 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Alan

    Everyone who complains that there aren't anywhere near as many good to great family films as there were in the past has conveniently forgotten that there were just as many bad films also. Think of the cowboy movies in the 50's – weren't there just hundreds of them, all involving killing indians? You can find similar examples in the 60's, 70's, or any decade.
    The problem is that we only remember the good, not the bad. (This also holds for popular music, board games, and almost any other type of popular amusement.) And because, over the years, there have been many good ones, we seem to lump them altogether as "in the past", while failing to realize that "in the past" may cover decades.
    So, when you say there aren't any good family films anymore, realize that there are, and their coming just about as often, but it's your memories that are faulty.
    On a related note, remember that the age width of children viewers is rather narrow when compared to adults. Consequently, it becomes very difficult to make a movie that appeals to a number of age groups. That makes the story telling doubly hard. The saving grace to it all, as Disney has discovered, is that, when you wait a few years, say a decade or so, you'll have a whole new set of viewers to sell to.

    November 10, 2008 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Jon

    Don't worry...
    A good family film will come and it will star THE MUPPETS!!!

    November 10, 2008 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Brian

    Sorry if its already been mentioned, but August Rush was a great one too.

    November 10, 2008 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  57. tana

    This is for Michael, Yea say it again brother! I have a 7 year old, and guess what he loves, The X-files, hates "Barney", thought The Dark Knight was awesome, and helps me make fun of Hannah Montana. I want my son to see good films, granted I won't take him to R films, but I am thinking about letting him see Little Miss Sunshine, it is a wonderful, touching film, (I hear the Whiggles crowd gasping at that!) The scene were Alan Arkin is telling Abigail Breslin how wonderful she is brought tears to my eyes. As a mother with taste I'll take Bugs Bunny over Care Bears anytime.

    November 10, 2008 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  58. Barry Brysman

    Well I decided to turn my 8-year old on to Laurel and Hardy films, and silent film comedies with Buster Keaton, etc. You know what? He and I laugh harder than with current cartoons and so called family films; and without toilet humor!!

    November 10, 2008 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Doug

    Walt Disney is surely turning in his grave and I miss him and his films...
    Disney/Pixar should go back to it's roots. I also am recycling The Sound of Music, Herbie, Don Knots, Escape to Witch Mountain, etc,. to MY children. They loved them all.
    (Yes I know Disney did not do ALL the great ones!)

    November 10, 2008 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  60. RNP

    Audience Alliance at is developing good family movies to address the dearth.

    November 10, 2008 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Trina

    It seems that I am not the only one disappointed with the quality of family movies. I don't allow my 41/2 year old to watch much that is out there. For some reason, writers feel the necessity to add words that are becoming unacceptable for our kids to use such as "Hell", "Stupid", "Idiot" and "Kill". (By the way, the first three words were all in the "Cars" movie. My son would love to watch that, but I just can't enourage it.)
    At what age should it be encouraged behaviour for one child to call another stupid? I can't think of an age, but I do know that kids are being expelled from schools for using the word "kill", therefore I don't think it should be used casually in movies. Oh! "Hate" is another word that we discourage our son from using.
    This may seem odd to some, especially the guy who thinks that I should be explaining sex and violence to my 4 year old. (Does anyone else think that that is nuts?)
    Finally getting to the point... I would love to see the G rating split for younger age groups.... so that I could better know by the rating that it is truly clean or age appropriate... or maybe the movie companies could just put out a sanitized version of some of these movies with the gratuitous scenes and language deleted.
    Yes, it may seem odd, but I have actually enjoyed watching some movies on USA because the language is not as painful to listen to and the more disturbing scenes have been edited out. (Even though I have to sit through the commercials.)

    November 10, 2008 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  62. John R.

    As has been pointed out, the large film companies make movies to make money. Unfortunately, when you compare the cost to make the movie as to what it brings in (in and out of the box office) too many family movies just do not bring in enough money.

    If you want an interesting read about family films and money, read the article by Phil Vischer about what happened to Big idea. (

    Pixar makes great family films that also make lots of money. I think Cars is one of the greatest storyline/marketing successes ever. It is a great story about friendship and more, while at the same time they will still be selling "Cars" toys for years.

    But for family films, the bottom line is the bottom line. Stop purchasing pop-culture trash for your children or for yourself and put your money into things worth watching and having.

    November 10, 2008 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  63. Ali

    I hate to mention, but a lot of people are complaining about film not teaching their children moral values. It leaves me with the question of why on earth you're expecting moral values to come from entertainment? For all people talk of "innocent minds" and "pictures from the good old days", it's worth remembering the incredibly violent cartoons so popular from the 1930s-1960s. Let us not forget how literal children can be, and that something which involves pandas making innuendo is less likely to directly affect their behaviour than, say, watching a cat and mouse beat on each other for twenty minutes.

    November 10, 2008 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  64. Bob

    Some family films are good, some not. What they do offer is entertainment without excessive violence or vulgarity. All of our kids are gown and we even have gandkids and rarely do any of us watch anything worse than PG-13 films. Based on the box office figures, apparently there are lots of folks like us. So why does Hollywood keep churning out violent, off-color films?

    November 10, 2008 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  65. DeeToo

    I am so tired of animation. Where are the real stories about real people – historical events, times past, foreign lands, great books, adventure, people to admire. Put in some realy good actors for a change. Kids like them as much as adults. Family movies don't have to be for 5 year olds. They can appeal to the 10 year old crowd too...

    A great example of a family movie was "October Sky" – Jake Guyllenhal, Chris Cooper, Laura Dern – – about regular kids with dreams that came true with some personal sacrifice and hard work.

    Another is "The Man in the Iron Mask" – DiCaprio, Irons, Malkovich, Byrne – Great cast, a bit of history (not accurate, but a touch of reality), and a story about loyalty, honor and being a good person.

    "Ever After" was a spin off from Cinderella – Drew Barrymore, Angelica Houston.

    Another is "Hope Floats" – Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick Jr,, Gena Rowlands – . It's about overcoming the bad things that come up in life, and how valuable family and true friend are when you are down...

    Movies used to have a message. Not complicated, not narrow-minded, about being a good person, how to reach your dreams, why it was good to be part of a family, how to respect animals and nature (remember "Born Free" and Kon Tiki"?).

    We need to lose the animation, start showing real people and provide a forum for kids to get excited about real life and the possibilities it holds. Not just a bunch of geeky automated figures with cutsey voices.

    November 10, 2008 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  66. Jimmy

    A good family film that I saw recently was one called "Rivers End" with Barry Corbin and Sam Huntington. Check it out if you can.

    November 10, 2008 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Patricia D.

    The trick is to have any kid sit still for 90 minutes, particularly someone under age six. Something that lasts longer than 45 minutes is a real strain for smaller children. I wouldn't dream of denying families the right to take the whole crowd to the movies, but a few short features for kids, with well-told stories, might be easier than one long feature.

    The exception to this was probably Jurassic Park. I remember well that the theater was packed with very small children and their families. When the T Rex was on the loose, though, very few of the little ones screamed. A small girl next to me nodded thoughtfully when the lawyer was eaten.

    It was very clear; he deserved to be eaten. Well, I thought so, too.

    November 10, 2008 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  68. JT

    Saw Madasgar 2 this weekend. Disappointing. Too fast-paced, characters were hyper-active cliches, and too much humor aimed at parents in the audience. I guess the assumption is that adults (parents) these days are incapable of sitting for 90 mins. unless they are entertained with goofy grin schtick.

    November 10, 2008 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  69. Derek

    There aren't any good family films anymore because they number of good familes is dwindling. Someone earlier had said that the films as of late mirror society. Whens the last time you heard of a real-life beauty and the beast? With the exception of the beast being filthy rich, that doesn't happen. A previous responder hit the nail on the head, the quirky lines and innuendos are throw in to appease the parents, make it somewhat enjoyable for them ot sit through. Don't get me wrong, I love the classics and I wish it could go back to that, for my sake and my daughters, but that is not the world we live in anymore. Gas was half the price it is today, 14 yr old girls didn't wear make-up, and families were more capable of actually being families. It's sad, but there's no reason to hate the movie/entertainment industry. It's their job.

    November 10, 2008 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Humble Opinion

    Everyone has an opinion .......
    I was disappointed in Disney's Rocketeer because of the language they let Howard Hughes use...."The SOB can fly".....
    Others didn't like Bambi because the Mother dies.....
    However, this is reality and children need to know that parents die; people kill not guns, violence is out there and how to avoid what you can.
    The only real family movies today can be found on Hallmark or Lifetime.

    November 10, 2008 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  71. kirkola

    Hollywood needs to re-visit the Indiana Jones type of movie geared towards adventure and discovery tinged with humour. Those were the ones my family always enjoyed together.

    November 10, 2008 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Jackie

    "Obviously if a movie is earning tens of millions or in some cases hundreds of millions of dollars in profit, it is a good movie."

    Really? So much for thinking for yourself... If "everyone" likes it, or buys it, it must be good!! You're a marketing dream!

    November 10, 2008 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  73. Lori

    It's not just family films–a lot of what comes to the local cineplex is dreck. Every film needs a solid story, well-acted characters, great dialogue, and they need to look good, too. After all, film is a visual medium. And I'm not a film snob–I see in excess of 40 movies a year, and I don't turn my nose up at great popcorn movies like last year's Transformers. But kids are no stupider than adults–they may lack experience, but after the age of about 3, they will be just as bored as adults are with a howler like Underdog.

    November 10, 2008 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  74. Mark Z, Plano TX

    Of course family films COULD be better, but then, so could almost ALL films. Sequels, particularly, suffer too much from the "more of the same" mentality in order to have an easy cash-in. While "Shrek 2" managed to avoid some of that, "Shrek The Third" did not. If more studios allowed their scriptwriters the creativity of the "Wall-E" or "Kung Fu Panda" teams, as well as letting them break new ground in areas other than special effects, the films would be better.

    I disagree with the initial statement of your article, however. Not every family-oriented film does well at the box office. Remember "Zathura"? An excellent film with a 76% Rotten Tomatoes rating, it earned a paltry $28 million at the box office. And by the way, how is it that "Kung Fu Panda" is preceded by the term "mediocre" as if the two are connected? "KFP" got a whopping 89% on the Rotten Tomatoes scale (and deservedly so, in my opinion – I loved the film). Compare THAT to "Madagascar 2"!

    November 10, 2008 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  75. Bobbi

    What I find so amusing in these comments is that the public has been saying that there are no good films coming from Hollywood for decades.
    For those who say that movies today are all special effects and no substance did not see Goodnight and Goodluck, Everything is Illuminated, Children of Men, American History X, Secondhand Lions, Finding Neverland, Inside Man, I could keep going.
    Hollywood sells products and they will stop selling products that are not profitable. If you don't want to see Saw V, or the like, don't see it. If no one wants to see slasher flicks, studios will stop making them.

    As for the golden olden times were movies were great, we only remember the movies from those times that were good. For every 12 Angry Men or My Fair Lady or Sound of Music, there were fifty The Thing that Wouldn't Die or Girl With the Golden Boots or I Accuse My Parents-really bad movies that you've only heard of if you watch Mystery Science Theater 3000.
    Also, these are movies that many people have loved from childhood and love them still because of the found memories that they attach to them and less because the movies were themselves spectacular.

    Hollywood movies used to be "cleaner" because of a harsh system of censorship called the Hays Code. Even today, the MPAA rating system indirectly censors movies, and I cannot ensorse censorship in any form.
    Like many people, I didn't see Saw V because it looked really stupid, but I'm not going to dismiss all the movies made in this country because of a few duds, just as I won't dismiss the Bridge on the River Kwai or Gaslight because of the garbage that came out at the same time.

    November 10, 2008 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  76. Dave

    I agree that better entertainment content – movies and music – is needed in our society. But I do not agree that sitting in a movie theater with your family for 90 minutes qualifies as "family time". While not talking to your kids / spouse for over an hour might sometimes seem like a good idea, I'd say that not conversing with your family is one of the major problems we face in America today. With iPods in every ear and "texting" soon to replace regular conversation, we all need to reexamine our priorities, simplify our lives and reclaim our families.

    November 10, 2008 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  77. Joe

    Toy licenses drive all decisions Hollywood makes regarding family films where films and tv shows end up being nothing more than informercials for companies like Mattel and Hasbro. The studios, most of the time, don't care about the quality. They just want a film that won't cost a whole lot to make and market, fills a need in the market place and can provide a positive return on their investment. Watch the behind the scenes documentary on "Batman & Robin" and listen to Joel Schumacher's comments. Everything that people loathed about that film was done in the name of selling toys.

    November 10, 2008 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  78. Xtina

    These movies are churned out in bigger numbers now. More movies a year equals less quality unfortunately. Also, if people continue to turn out for the crappy ones, studios will continue to make them.

    November 10, 2008 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  79. Linda

    I am a 68- year old great-grandmother, and I loved Shrek, Monsters, Inc. and my most favorite is Cars! Sandlot was very good – I guess I saw that at leat 6 times with the grandkids.

    Movies with a good positive storyline, no "farts" or other vulgarities,
    no sickening sweet morality lessons – just good wholesome – "Gee, that was so good!" Today's cartoons are mean and tasteless, and contain too much near-vulgarity. Some "preach" "morality lessons" till they're sickening!

    November 10, 2008 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  80. Cathy

    I agree with James – BigIdea has a wonderful cast of characters – always a good moral to the story and tidbits for both adults and children. I raised my daughter on these and highly recommend Veggie Tales!!!

    November 10, 2008 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  81. Cornelia

    @ Michael:

    I understand your frustration over parents whining about not having access to quality, clean movies for their children to watch however I think you're missing their point entirely.

    It isnt that they are wanting to treat their children like "glass", its that they are wanting their kids to remain kids for a few years. These parents are making the effort to keep their children from seeing these more adult movies as is their right and obligation as a parent.

    At no time did any of these parents say that they skirt issues of sex, drugs, violence or death, they would just prefer to discuss these issues with their children on their own terms before they are exposed to the media's version of normality.

    The parents are lamenting the fact that solid family films are not abundant or readily available in the movie theaters, most of these true family films are shown on few screens throughout the country or are straight to video.

    Kids grow up too fast and are exposed to an insane amount of violence and sex everyday, there is nothing wrong with wanting to keep your children protected from our adult world for a few years. Yes, eventually the kids will have to grow up and deal with how adults are and how we treat each other, but 7 year olds are NOT capable of understanding our adult world, nor should they have to. I'm 30 and I barely understand it all.

    Oh, and I dont think these parents have forced upon you The Sound of Music or any of the terrible Lucas films from the past decade. Just as you so delicately told them, if you don't like it, don't watch it. You can't blame anyone but Lucas for the tripe that he created, that was his own fault.

    November 10, 2008 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  82. Allison

    What ever happened to the classic Disney movies, such as Snow White and Cinderella? Those were quality movies. You don't need to worry about any innuendos or sketchy subject matter. They were wonderful family movies. Lets bring back Peter Pan, Aladdin, and the Lion King!!

    (Spongebob is NOT a character children should aspire to–it teaches them to be loud, obnoxious whiners)

    November 10, 2008 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  83. Dr. Leary

    To all the "Helicopter Parents" whining about the lack of family films out there; GROW UP!!!!! You have no idead what kind of damage you are doing to your kids AND this country. Thanks to you the next generation of Americans are going to be nothing but a bunch of weak, scared, and sheltered pansies. The world is a rough place so stop hiding your little snowflakes from it and help them face it!

    November 10, 2008 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  84. Johnny Thunder

    Do you notice how everyone seems to think the movies they grew up with are the best movies? No doubt our children will think the movies when they're adults just don't measure up to the "classics" like Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and Cars. Parents are a much bigger influence on children than movies, and if their parents try to shelter them far jokes and horny, horny hippos, they'll most likely be ill prepared in most real life situations they'll face.
    I'm 34 and I still laugh when my dog farts, and if you don't, I feel sorry for you. I'll be teaching my kids how hilarious dog farts are, and not to take life too seriously. Children will ALWAYS be exposed to things , how they think about those things and how they react to the real world is up to the parents.

    November 10, 2008 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  85. Kristen

    If you want to see great family films, check out anything by Hayao Miyazaki. Spirited Away got the Oscar nod but all of his films are amazing quality animation (think Disney when still drawn by hand which these still are). In addition, the stories are all about moral themes. I think that great family films spark the discussion of family values rather than replace it. My whole family wept at the end of "Bridge to Terabithia" and discussions went on for days about what happened in the movie and why different characters reacted as they did. Likewise, we discuss endlessly why Sharpay is so mean to Gabriella and why the sports guys don't want to do the school musical.

    We also have endless discussions about how SpongeBob is NOT a character with worthwile traits and how he might make better decisions in different scenarios.

    November 10, 2008 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  86. Dan in NY

    to all those who connect the age-inappropriate content to modern films, remember that the bugs bunny cartoons were doing this 50 years ago. Plenty of cultural and adult references there – maybe they're more explicit now, but we as kids never noticed or cared.

    November 10, 2008 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  87. p

    This is ridiculous, having grown up on Tom and Jerry and Bugs Bunny (which was non-stop violence and sexual innuendo) I find it hard to believe that modern "family" movies are much worse than the old cartoons. Someone mentioned old Disney movies, find me one without violence, death or arranged marriage. (Or blatant racism, that's an old standby for Disney.)

    November 10, 2008 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  88. BJ

    No wonder American is going to hell in a hand bucket. All our kids ever get fed from the media is garbage and sex. Families are the minority now as so many marriages are failing. Where is the fairy tale? Why can' we still believe in forever?

    November 10, 2008 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  89. Ed Tallahassee

    You also have to remember that when people look back at movies they forget about all the bad ones. I remember going to the movies at least once a month when I was a kid. That means from age 5 to 12 I saw about 100 movies. I can only remember a dozen or so. So do the math on it when there is only 1 or 2 good family films every year that is about average.

    The other side of the coin is the production values on these films are so much higher. A movie company spends millions on the all-star cast, the CGS, and promotional tie-ins. If they were to push-out that many movies they would go bankrupt from killing their own market share.

    Just Imagine if Toy Story, Shrek, Madagascar, Cars, Finding Neo, The Incredibles, Kung Fu Panda, and Monster's Inc all came-out in the same year. How many kids and their parents could afford all the toys, back packs, T-shirts, lunch boxes and other tie-ins?

    November 10, 2008 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  90. Peggy Goforth

    I would like to comment futher that as a child I grew up in the '50's when both television and some films were in Black and White Only. I went with other neighborhood kids to see whatever was playing at the local cinema. I paid my 25 cents and saw "Tarzan" and "It Came From Beneath The Sea". I think it was easier to separate the fantasy from reality because violence was not part of my every day world. Kids today have violence thrown in their faces in brilliant HI-DEF Color. Popeye and Bugs Bunny cartoons were violent but I knew it was all pretend. I like good films which tell stories that show both kids and adults that they can be better than they are despite the bad things which can happen and do it without maximum gore or insulting each other. There are young film makers out there who have a powerful and creative vision who need encouragement and financial backing. I await their debut!

    November 10, 2008 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  91. Gigi

    Where was everyone when FLY ME TO THE MOON (rated G) came out?? It was by far the most incredible children's animated film that actually taught children about the Apollo 11 Moon Landing in 1969 very cleverly. My grandkids walked out saying they wanted to be an Astronaut!! When does that EVER happen? Finally, they saw what a true hero is. I don't get why very few went to see it when this is the type of film parents are begging to take their children to see. These big studios probably squashed this film from doing well. Hopefully it will be out in DVD.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  92. Cindy Smith

    I long for a movie that I can spend watching with my children. They are few and far between. Even Disney and Pixar movies seem to have to add that one part of toilet humor or a hint of inappriate conversation. My kids are now starting to enjoy the old movies, "The Trouble with Angels," "With Six You Get Egg Roll," "Harvey," and anything Cary Grant, etc. We need to clean up the movies. It seems all the movies being released are about the end of the world, blowing up something or someone, or other dark and depressing matter. I think it's time for movies about real people too who do heroic things, i.e., maybe some heroes from September 11, 2001, not just firefighters or police but people who gave of themselves so that others could live. Come on Hollywood, listen up and change to a family friendly environment. This is why I buy DVDs now and don't go to the movies. I even buy old TV series on DVD, the new ones are not appropriate for the most part for the whole family to see.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  93. Albert

    Sorry, but sales is what put films in theaters. Art films have the same problem. Lots of people want theaters to show "independents", but most of the theaters' seats will be empty.
    3 examples at opening;
    In 2003 Secondhand Lions did $4000 per screen opening weekend, competing with Underworld (a vampire movie) that did $7400 per screen.
    In 2005 Millions did $2100 per screen competing with Interpreter at $8275 per screen,
    In 2008 Kit Kittridge did $1800 per screen compared with Hancock at $15,800 per screen.

    The sophomoric animated Madagascar 2 just did 18,300 per screen. If it were your theater, which kind of movie would you book? The kind that people pay to attend is the correct answer. You would push the low selling movies out in a week or two to make room for bigger films too.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  94. Brenda

    I have a 6 year-old grandson and his Mom (my daughter) previews each and every movie he sees and thank God she does. When she was a child, there was no need for me to preview a child's movie for her to see. They were good, clean movies......not true anymore. It just proves how Satan is making his way into everything; movies, the Internet, television, books....Parents beware! Your children are being enticed by something very evil in this world and it can take hold of them quicker than you may think.
    I would like to see children not watching so much tv or movies. It's not good for them. We need more parents to sit down in the family room and play a board game together or go to the park and have a picnic as a family and read more. My grandson gets so excited at bedtime because my daughter has been reading to him every night since the day he was born.They take a trip to the library every Saturday morning to check out books for the upcoming week.
    Money is at the root of these movies that are getting more and more explicit and not geared to our little ones and their innocence. They're not children for long; let them enjoy their childhood years with good, clean movies.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  95. dma69

    The problem with family films are that the quality is so lacking. When I was a kid, I remember Disney releasing gems like "Escape To Witch Mountain", "Return From Witch Mountain", "The Cat From Outer Space", the Herbie the Love Bug films, etc. Films that had a storyline, characters you cared about, nothing offensive for parents to worry about, and the kids were more like real kids and not sassy and overly-confident. Films that kids and parents can sit together and enjoy. Today, we have junk like the HSM movies, Cheetah Girls, Hannah Montana, and Camp Rock. These films were obviously made for kids because all I got from watching these was a migrane. What's really sad is that kids today don't know good quality films when they see them. Hollywood could throw a stick of butter on the wall and kids will find it entertaining. Sad.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  96. Jenn

    What we wouldn't do to have some QUALITY family movies to treat the kids to – things we don't have to be concerned about re: innuendos, foul language, violence, etc. We've started renting more and more movies b/c we can preview them, if needed....or just see some good old movies that aren't in the theaters anymore. I would APPLAUD a movie studio that made a commitment to quality, clean, fun family movies!!!! They would make a ton, I'm sure!!

    November 10, 2008 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  97. steve

    "Family Films" do well at the box office because there are so few of them. Our family, for example, loves to go to the movies, but there are few movies release that we feel are truly appropriate for our children that we rarely go. When the rare exception does come out, families like us flock to it.

    There are two things that continue to baffle me:

    1. Family films repeatedly do well at the box office. Why is it that Hollywood continues to poor most of its resources into making movies that are not family friendly?
    2. Even in "family films" there seems to be the felt need to inject some "potty" humor or other unneeded elements to appeal adults or teens. Why is that necessary? I have learned the hard way that rated G does not necessarily mean I want my kids to see it.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  98. Texas Granny

    Would like to see more non-cartoon family movies with a real plot. Seems like many of the more enjoyable movies are made in foreign countries. Some of our favorites: Babe; The Secret of Roan Innish; The Gods must be Crazy; The Pursuit of Happyness (U.S. , hooray). Also enjoyed Airbud; The Air up There; Cool Runnings. Unfortunately, sometimes really great children's books like Heidi are massaged into less than great movies.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  99. Peggy Goforth

    Disney no longer makes the great movies I remember growing up:
    "A Tiger Walks" with Brian Keith or "The Castaways" with Hayley Mills and Maurice Chevalier. These may be on video now but they were great films with major Hollywood stars. Many based on novels. Disney failed with the movie version-direct to video of Madeline L'Engels "A Wrinkle in Time" and "Ring of Endless Light" by dumbing them down. Someone should re film them and give the themes of good and evil the author intended. There are some good films coming out soon "Inkheart" based on the novel by Cornelia Funke. I personally believe Children Under 5 don't need to be in a theatre. They can watch on dvd at home and when interest wanders, go do something else.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  100. jon

    Whatever happened to Live Action family films? Animated films are well and good (WALL-E and Ratatouille were both hugely entertaining, as was The Incredibles) but where are this generations' Swiss Family Robinsons and Treasure Islands and Pollyannas?!!

    November 10, 2008 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  101. howie d

    "I wanted to add: back then, there were 1 or 2 truly kid/family films a year. Now there are at least 5 per month. The quality will suffer with those numbers."

    Completely agree. With the huge amount coming out these days there will plenty of bad. Notice when we point out the "great ones", there are maybe 3 or 4 a DECADE. So do not complain because there have been so "few". Probably more good ones now than there were in the past, just lots more bad as well.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  102. shane


    I daughters spent all weekend watching the sound of music. It seems that moral values have slipped when it comes to entertaining the children.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  103. Meow cut that out

    @ Jenny, et al –

    I just have to bring this up. Wish I could let it go, but you said ...

    "I mean really in Madagascar 2, issues of sacrifice and death for the 8 and under crowd?"

    Have you ever seen Bambi? Dumbo? Finding Nemo? E.T.? The Lion King? I'm reasonably sure that these classics (yes, they all deserve their place in the pantheon of great "family" films) are (1) aimed squarely at a younger audience and (2) contain pivotal and emotionally loaded scenes revolving around sacrifice and death. (There are many more examples, but why continue?)

    As for HSM3, the only thing that pops into my head is a news story about leaked cell phone photos of one of the female leads being in flagrante delicto ...and those pictures making their rounds through various sources. I've got to say that behavior like that is not something that I'd want my kids to emulate. Kudos to you for being open-minded (and possibly half blind) if you're okay with your kids making that sort of thing public.

    I'm sorry, but your argument is null and void for being patently ridiculous. Feel free to try again once you're able to clearly communicate a defensible position.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  104. franco

    My kids are exposed to and LOVE Charlie Chaplin and all the old favorites in the Family movie genre. Wizard of Oz, Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Sabrina..... Great family films are rare these days. For every ELF or School of Rock there are scores of fast-paced, mindless, commercial-like films that are knocked off to serve as convenient baby-sitters – keeping their audience glued to the pyrotechnics of light and sound. Madegascar and its ilk are just more nails in the coffin of culture.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  105. Michael

    I feel like I'm in an even worse version of the camping scene from "Addams Family Values" where all of you spinless parents are forcing us into the hut to watch bambi and beauty and the beast (a horrible, disgusting adaptation of a beautiful story) telling us: "you WILL conform and be happy like WE ARE"!

    Stop it already. Stop being weak and forcing your weakness on the rest of us. If you can't explain violence and sex to a child – don't have one. That's part of your job as a parent!
    If you kid is under 5 – don't take them to a "movie". Keep them at home. They aren't ready to sit there still for 90 min and we don't deserve to have our $10 movie interrupted so you can feel all fuzzy taking little crying miss fussy out.

    It's because of you we've had to endure "The sound of music", and see Lucas ruin Star Wars with the Ewoks and all of Episode 1 which he "made for my kids to enjoy". Yeah – thanks for that and so much more.

    Bugs Bunny was funny because it was NEVER intended for children. It was made for adults and kids liked, and got it, too. All the good stuff out there was made for the adult mind. Kids are actually smart enough to follow and struggle to get it. It's our insane effort to preserve "innocent minds", whatever that means – that ruins perfectly good storytelling.

    Stop treating your children like they are made of glass and shatter becasue the world is confusing and not so nice some times. Kids react to things badly (get this) when YOU do. Be calm and explain slowly and most will take your explination and run with it. When you panic or struggle – then they get anxious and "scared".

    So... to the grown up's complaining about "bad" movies – stop going to them. Stop buying then. Stop the incentive for these companies to make them. And stop putting them in front of your kids because you can't handle explaining a real movie to them.

    Or.... let the wiggles slowly eat your brain until you're turned as "innocently stupid" as you're trying to keep your kid.

    And leave the rest of us out of it.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  106. beth

    James nailed it in his reference to anything produced by bigidea. Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki and company know how to tell a great story in a way that appeals to kids and make parents split their sides. They have spoofed every cultural icon from Monty Python to Pirates of Penzance to Bonanza to Elvis to Lord of the Rings (to mention a few) and created memorable characters and meaningful messages at the same time. Watch them all, but start with The Ballad of Little Joe.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  107. jean

    This past weekend we dug out of the household film vault "Support Your Local Sheriff" and "Support Your Local Gunfighter," two old James Garner westerns. Also playing on a TV near us this weekend was The Singing Cowboy Gene Autry. And I mentioned to my husband as we were watching the Garner flicks, that he should dig a little deeper and see if he could find Don Knotts "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" and the "Apple Dumpling Gang." Give me those old movies over this new stuff any day. Even my teen-age daughter loves those old shows. I may be stuck in the 60s or 70s but maybe that's not a bad place to be stuck in today's film world.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  108. Jon

    I grew up with films like The Lion King, Aladdin, and Toy Story. In recent years, only Shrek, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo have lived up to great, animated children's movies in my opinion.

    Moreso even than feature-length animated films, shorter ones like Winnie the Pooh and The Reluctant Dragon remain top among my favorites from childhood. I would love to see that type of quality come back.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  109. thenewvintag

    It used to be a small group in Hollywood that thought; in order for films to be admired by the industry and considered real art, they had to push the limits. Now it seems like that mentality has filtered down to all film makers. The idea that you can make a great movie that doesn't try to be edgy and appeals to all audiences seems to be lost on most studios. Its as though they think, if they continue feeding us garbage we will eventually like it. All the while missing a beckoning financial opportunity, when most of the movie going public is simply wanting to see a movie that gives us an escape from the world, rather than remind us how bad it has become.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  110. Jess

    There are crappy movies in every genre and subset–not just family movies. The difference is parents don't know how to say no to their children, so they oblige every time little Maddesyn or Aaden wants to go see the fifth sequel of the Little Mermaid. Then the parents whine about how terrible the movie was. I have news for you–if you already paid to see it, it's too late to complain. You voted with your money and your vote was, "Yes, more please!" As long as there is a demand for something–it will be cranked out as quickly as possible. You'd all do yourselves a big favor by buying movies you deem "good" for your kids on DVD instead of taking them to the theater every weekend. It's cheaper, too.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  111. Titus

    "The Tale of Despereaux" looks, at least to me, like a throwback to family-friendly animation. Is anyone bringing their kids and grandkids to see that movie over the Christmas break?

    November 10, 2008 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  112. JeffinNH

    I don't think that Hollywood and the many people that take their kids to the movies know what a wholesome family film is! You can't even watch a TV program that is family-oriented anymore unless you're watching TV Land or Nick at Nite! I was watching a rerun of the Cosby Show the other day, and I was shocked when the child actually obeyed the parent, then I realized that that is how life used to be! Now, movies and TV shows only want to push sex all the time! Can you find a TV show now with a family that is actually married and the husband and wife treat each other with the respect that they deserve? Can you find a show where the parents aren't portrayed as fools and the kids are well-behaved?

    It seems to me that too many "parents" don't want to waste 2 hours of their lives by taking their kids to the movies if these "parents" aren't going to have a good time! I guess that's why Hollywood has decided for us that "Family" movies should be laced with adult humor and sexual references...Oh, it's okay because the children won't get the jokes, right??? WRONG! Even though they may not get the jokes, they'll still be exposed to it, and they will likely repeat it especially if they know that they shouldn't!

    For my family, since there's NOTHING at the movie theaters that is worth watching, and since there's very little at the video store to rent that we would want our kids to watch, we go to the LIBRARY to take out videos and movies. It's FREE to take them from the library, and usually the movies are actually G rated and SAFE to watch around the kids, and the whole family usually enjoys it without us parents becoming bored!!

    November 10, 2008 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  113. Brian

    People don't see live action family films anymore, making them unprofitable. Just look at the above examples of good live action family film making:

    "Millions" was a fantastic movie. It made 6.5 million.

    "Kit KIttredge" has received good reviews. It made 17.7 million.

    Meanwhile, Saw V made 30 million its opening weekend. What would you make if you were Hollywood?

    Adults go see R rated movies on date nights while the kids stay at home with the babysitter.

    Families see the G and PG movies the kids want to see (which is normally the visually stimulating cartoon that's heavily advertised during the cartoons they watch Saturday mornings).

    Until parents start choosing the films the family sees and start seeking out these good live action family films, the studios won't make them.

    Look at the Narnia movie. The first one was good and made alot of money. Now studios are cranking out all the copycat films they can (Golden Compass) to ride that wave.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  114. K-Mom

    I took my young daughter to see Madagascar this weekend, and I knew it was PG. I wish I had my money back. How many times did I hear the words "butt' and "stupid"? And what was with the hippo "date" scene in the water and talking about "signing up for the breeding program" at the zoo? It was ridiculous and inappropriate. What is wrong with wanting our kids to actually be nice–do people even know what that means anymore? It really is ok if our kids are not crude and have manners.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  115. Deb in Vegas

    Doris Day movies are still a hit in my house. My now 23 year old daughter grew up watching those as well as Disney's "live" movies such as "the Computer wore Tennis shoes" and the original Parent Trap, and she also watched the ever-funny "I Love Lucy". She still watches them today and I'm certain they'll be passed on to her children. WHile she still enjoys some of the not-so-family friendly movies Hollywood generates today, it is nice to know that she also enjoys both the old and new (Madagascar is a favorite of hers) family films.

    Hollywood can make billions by making high quality movies for every genre. It's quality that counts!

    November 10, 2008 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  116. Keith Shaw

    I beg to differ. There have been a lot of good family films this pass year – and families did not support them in a big way. Most recently, CITY OF EMBER. Forget about all those adult reviewers who thought ONCE was a great movie. Kid's/family movies don't have to be great achievements in cinema. They just need to enjoyable entertainment.

    Just about any movie from Walden Media, which are adapted from popular children's literature, has been solid family entertainment. Who went to see NIM'S ISLAND, THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES, and JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH?

    And "family films" don't need to appeal to the whole family. HOW TO EATS FRIED WORMS is a classic father/son gross-out movie. KITT KITTERIGE was a terrific mother/daughter film.

    There would be more if families would support those that are there.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  117. Asherspark

    Bubba, it is simply wrong for you to make a comment about a movie without having seen it. I don't mean for this to be an attack, but your comment is based on what is "apparently" true and actually holds no water at all. There is no attack on "fat people" in WALL-E. There is an attack on the laziness and wastefulness that results in conditions being what they are in the future. The supposed "fat people" are heroes in the end, after realizing that the only lifestyle they ever knew (the one that made them "fat") was not their only choice. Look, I weigh in at over 300 pounds and spend my life combating my own weight issues. I was not offended whatsoever by the portrayal of the future humans in WALL-E. You may still say that you don't care for movies that push their messages, and WALL-E certainly DOES have a message. I simply think that it needs to be clear that there is nothing vicious or mean-spirited about the way that message is presented.

    Take care.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  118. Kevin

    I'm still waiting for the resurgence of plot in movies. I just stopped watching movies because the decent one were usually based on books, and the book is cheaper than a DVD, or even a trip to the movies. Beside, book graphics beat Hollywood's grafics any day for me.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  119. Zonia

    The good family films are in the past....

    November 10, 2008 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  120. cynthia

    Why do people always seem to equate "family films" with "children's films"? My youngest child is 13, and it seems most so-called family films are way to young for my children (or me) to enjoy. There have been some excellent films that - had they just cut out some of the more violent scenes or some of the overtly sexual (borderline porn) scenes - would have been perfect for my family.

    What do we watch at home? We rent a lot of old movies. Most Bette Davis movies, "The Maltese Falcon," "Casablanca" - good stories, no sex, very little violence. And NOT made for children.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  121. James in Utah

    The main problem with Hollywood is there is not an original thought that comes out of the place. Most of the movies today are a rehash of a movie from the last century. Case in point, how many zombie movies have broken on the screen in the past two years. But I digres. In a time where money is tight and people are trying to do more activities with their families, Hollywood needs to get with the program and give us just that! Family friendly features that promotes a good message and is just old fashioned fun.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  122. Ramona Collins

    Ever tried Feature Films for Families–look it up–there are some great movies out there–they just don't have large budgets for advertising. I would recommend these for your kids–and yes, some do come to the large screen.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  123. mommyof2

    My son loves superheros – but the new ones coming out are scary and not as entertaining. Whatever happened to the old Batmans with characters that we loved. My son thinks that Batman is mean – not the message we got when Michael Keaton and George Clooney played the roles. It's sad...

    November 10, 2008 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  124. Ryan Short

    Good family films are one of the goals of the new Independent Christian Film industry. You can see more of what they are producing at: and Look for a lot of new films to be coming out soon for the next film festival in January – with a $101,000 prize for the winning film!
    BTW, the film quality is going up as well.


    November 10, 2008 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  125. Karen

    One of the problems is, when I was growing up, children films were rare, you may have 1-2 animated films a year if that, it was a rare occasion, where animated films after the Lion King became a dime a dozen, a business instead of art. The old Disney films took years in the making. It's ashame that animated films are made for profit only. As far as family films, I have seen some very good ones, Bridge of Terebitha was one off the top of my head.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  126. Steve M

    To label these movies as second rate, just because you, or other adults, don't care for them or intrigue you on a more cerebral level is absurd. These movies are made for children. That is the audience. I would imagine that when you were younger you enjoyed shows or movies that your parents had little interest in. When I was younger I watched the Power Rangers and thought they were awesome, my father on the other hand was quick to point out the plot holes and shoddy set design. Nevertheless, it WAS quality programming to me and nearly everyone else in elementary school.

    And when the movie came out, it blew my mind.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  127. adam

    Forget the family, WHERE ARE THE GOOD FIMLS in general? I haven't gone to the theater in months, and i majored in film. I will go this week to see 007, but that's as a loyal Bond fan. There is an absence of originality and freshness in films today. Add that to HDTV, Blueray and Netflix. Why go out when you have a better picture and good enough sound at home. In todays economy who wants to spend $10 a ticket when you can wait a few months and rent?

    November 10, 2008 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  128. brian

    What ever happened to Old Yeller, Black Beauty, My friend Flicka.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  129. Woodie

    Well there is art and there is formulas to increase mass-consumption and the two do not share the same goals. This helps explain some of the discrepancy. A adult will take children to a movie they do not particular care to see. I used to do this all the time. I don't anymore.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  130. Tim

    Remember the days of Cary Grant and Doris Day and ... a host of other "stars" who made films the whole family could see – together? Did the studios go bankrupt during this "innocent period" ... obviously not. If a movie doesn't have a whole host of foul language and/or machines/people killing people/machines in 1000 different ways while scantilly clad or naked ... well, it isn't "entertainment" ... GIVE FAMILIES A BREAK!!

    We WANT wholesome movies – movies with story lines and recognizable performers with recognizable plots ... without nudity and/or "strong sexual content" and/or vial/foul/vulgar/inappropriate language and/or violence/murder/rape/incest/beatings and/or ... that would prevent Judeo/Christian families for viewing as a family. If that is too much to ask, see the 1st two sentences/questions above.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  131. Ryan

    Good screenwriting needs to be part of Hollywood's plan to increase business into theaters. I'm surprised with the likes of Spielberg (E.T), Christopher Columbus (Home Alone), and Rob Reiner (Princess Bride) running production companies that the focus on well crafted stories has gone to the side for increased profits for video games rights and product rights (toys/clothing). Young directors/screenwriters need to focus on bringing original ideas or adapting the right properties. Then the magic of going to the movie theater would be brought back. I still remember seeing Back to the Future and E.T. with my Mom and Dad in the theaters. Those experiences don' t occur anymore. Generating new ideas are a few and far between in the world and that's a sad state of affairs.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  132. Jack

    Oh nonsense. Wall-E was empowering to under-tall folk, but it was a bit of an indictment of the behavior that gets us there.

    I did think said movie fell far below the hype Pixar gave it though. Nemo it was not.

    Finding Nemo is probably the all time BEST family flick, IMO. Its got everything but the song and dance....

    November 10, 2008 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  133. Kim

    Film makers would be wise to produce family films sans the swearing, innuendo, toilet humor, etc. because it would open the film to everyone to enjoy and increase their profits considerably. I am completely suprised at the content of some PG-13 movies, especially with the sexual content and violence in them. There's no way I would let a 13year old see some of them, let alone my own 16 year old. The people in the entertainment industry (the adults) should sit down with kids and listen to their thoughts, interests, sense of humor, etc. It just might make for great movie subjects.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  134. Grimshawn

    The kids are the audience, but so are the parents. We are the ones who have to sit there WITH our children. And, I'm sorry, but I thought Kung-Fu Panda had a great moral message for the kids besides "buy my product". And don't blame the movie...blame the Hollywood execs that want to make a buck out of everything...even red inflatable Mandrill butts.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  135. Paul

    What happened to the good live action family films? The last really great movie that I thought could be enjoyed by families was "Millions" by Danny Boyle a few years ago. It had an excellent message, heartfelt moments and enough silliness to please kids. Other classics like "The Sandlot" or "The Rocketeer" that are really great flicks for kids and adults alike. If we can get past the cheap, phoned in CGI spectacles and get back to classic film making, maybe then we can get better quality family films. Hollywood is just cheap pouring in money that could be used for production into product placement and advertising for sub-par films.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  136. Western Texas

    It's corporate culture. Our current business leadership – not a gifted generation I'm afraid – does not make things. They make deals. I heard a video game developer being interviewed who I am paraphrasing: "The CEOs of the corporations that design and market video games do not themselves PLAY video games. They play golf. The only products they want to develop are sequels to their already successful games and unoriginal knockoffs of every successful competitor's games."

    Movie corporation CEOs make deals, not movies. They make money, not movies. The best return on the investor's dollar is not always what the consumer wants or needs. Originality is risky. Producing another one that is just like the one you made last year is a guaranteed money-maker. They are not bad people, but their product is of a much lower quality than is possible.

    Why should America's corporations deliberately design and make lesser quality product? Something needs fixing. The system is not working as it should.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  137. Dee

    I absolutely agree with this article! I was so thrilled when, in 1995 the G rated movie "Babe" was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award.While it did not win that award (it did win for special effects), "Babe" won awards from Golden Globe, National Society of Film Critics and Broadcast Film Critics Association for best picture/family film. The director, Chris Noonan was also recognized.

    This movie showed that a "family film" can be beautiful, well acted, have an interesting plot, rich characters,humor that doesn't involve pop/poop jokes and be completely clean.

    My children where young then, and I hoped that such critical acclaim for this movie would mean that The Powers That Be in the movie industry would be sending more quality films our way. But sadly, that didn't happen as often as I would have liked.

    US Box Office was $63,634,380 so perhaps wanting more like Babe was just wishful thinking.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  138. Joe D.

    The culture of the film industry is not G-rated. It is reasonable to see how they have a difficulty doing G-rated films.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  139. WBrady

    Lots of movies could be seen by the entire family if the POINTLESS sex and profanity were written out. If I was a stockholder in one of thye studios I'd be pitching a fit over the lost dollars from families who arent puritanical, but wont set their kids down in front of a lot of G-Damn this or F that. Frankly, the best films of late, like National Treasure for instance are totally entertaining AND appeal to our better instincts(like National pride, interest in our own history). And while I'm ranting, when I see a kids movie that includes a cuss word or some sort of dbl entendre re sex, I get totally torqued out of shape!

    November 10, 2008 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  140. Mark Orsted

    I wanted to add: back then, there were 1 or 2 truly kid/family films a year. Now there are at least 5 per month. The quality will suffer with those numbers.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  141. char

    Having just seen Madagascar with my young grandson, I was dismayed at the mean spiritedness without humor (granny vs. the lion) and the sexual innuendo (the hippos) that wasn't appropriate for the intended audience. On top of that it was boring in the extreme. Only Pixar seems to put out animated films worth watching. Maybe it's just a reflection of society as a whole today.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  142. Ande

    It seems to me that there's a particular niche nowadays for "family films," but it didn't seem so long ago that parents could take their kids to the movies without having to worry about scads of questionable content – even James Bond movies used to fit in that category, once upon a time... I think marketing plays a huge role, and kids nowadays have more influence on what the family watches, so why wouldn't the film companies cater to the wants of pre-schoolers and pre-adolescents? The only way for quality to get better, unfortunately, is for parents to stop taking their kids to see mediocre films: rent a classic, nuke some popcorn and cuddle with the kids in front of the 50" big screen.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  143. Mark Orsted

    Last night we watched Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. If you want a good family film, then go watch it. it's a great story, and definitely one the kids would enjoy. It brings with it the tradition of such movies as Stand By Me, and Now & Then, and gives one a glimpse at 1934 USA (the depression..) in a way that makes it possibly clearer to kids what was going on then and what is potentially now, but shows us hope and good things in a good message also (don't blatanly blame or distrust those different from you, etc).

    My favorite film from a year back? August Rush. Again a fantastic film to see with your family (mind you to me movie going age is 8-12.. the younger one's dont' need nor want a plot just really neato characters ala madagascar, cars, etc)

    Where are all the good family films? They are everywhere, but it does take some effort to locate them. You have to invest in the idea that the very youngest want cutesy characters, the middle child-age kids will accept either that or good story's about kids in their age range (How to Eat Fried Worms ws big at my house), and your 13+ – well, they dont' wanna go with u anyways!

    November 10, 2008 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  144. Sarah Weng

    As far as I'm concerned, the pinnacle of children's animated movies comes in the form of Hayao Miyazaki's films. They manage to be sweet and funny, entertaining for kids and adults, don't contain any bodily function jokes, and aren't formulaic in the least. For young children "My Neighbor Totoro" is full of magic and beauty. For older children "Kiki's Delivery Service" is a perfect tale of a girl trying to find her place in the world. The animation in these films is unrivaled and the stories leave you feeling happy and fulfilled.

    *bonus, unlike Disney movies, they don't all end up with at least one parent dead. Talk about horrifying. Why does a parent have to die for a child to learn about themselves and what they are capable of?

    November 10, 2008 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  145. Shelley

    I recently won an international screenplay competition in the "family film" category. I shopped my script around some and got some great feedback: funny, adventurous, good characters, yada-yada, but not scary enough... and danger or peril was not what they were going for – gotta have that black-hatted bad guy, donchaknow. The reality is that if you want to get past the 20-something gatekeepers called "readers" who take the first look at your script and are terrified of bucking the system, maybe losing their jobs, you better fill your script with a bunch of cliches, not to mention new horrors that will scare the pants off any kid, like prehistoric sabertooth tigers looking to eat their enemy's baby. Now, isn't that JUST what you want your little one watching? Well, given the success of Ice Age, I gotta ask. But, here's the bottom line: if you don't want mediocrity, then don't pay for the ticket to that crappy movie. Money is what puts the business in Show Business.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  146. Sarah

    I miss family films too. I disagree that it doesn't have to be "good" since the kids don't care. Family films need to be able to draw in adults too. I'm so tired of going to the movies and being appalled at the sex/nudity, violence, and hideous language. Why can't there be PG rated films that have great acting and plots? That's what I want to see... things I can sit down with kids and know that while being entertained, I won't have to be concerned or offended at the content.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  147. Melissa S.

    Good Family movies don't exist anymore, they are all about bodily jokes and sequals. Disney has taken all of it's GOOD animated films and made them 2, 3 and sometimes 4 squeals. Whatever happened to the imagination with the moral ending like Jim Henson's/Lucas Films The Labyrinth or Pollyanna?? There is just no imagination out there anymore.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  148. edgar friendly

    Obviously if a movie is earning tens of millions or in some cases hundreds of millions of dollars in profit, it is a good movie. Bad movies do not make money it's as simple as that. Want proof, simply look at how much all the recent "Iraq" movies bombed at the box office.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  149. Karyn

    What incentive do studiomakers have to make "good" children's movies if the box office revenue for these awful films is so high? If junk like "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" makes a ton of money, why invest more money in good scripts, good directors, and good actors? Also, Wall-E is NOT a scathing attack on fat people. It's a scathing attack on our culture's laziness and how we're becoming a digitally focused, virtual world (which, incidentally, might result in our species evolving into extremely overweight people if the trend continued for 700 years). So don't hate on it 'less you've seen it.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  150. Les Crimp

    In our home we have taken renting all the "really old" movies with the contract actors. That was a time when the studios treated adults as adults. We keep thinking that the family movies made today are made to satisfy the "8th grade" level of mental activity. It's a shame that there are no movies with a real story any more such as "To Kill a Mockingbird", etc.
    Today, if it isn't a car chase, a mass murder scene, etc. it isn't considered an adult movie. I guess we will have to wait until the movie makers "grow up". Sad!!!

    November 10, 2008 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  151. Geeshgirl, Austin

    ...I would like to add, however, that we do love the original Madagascar and will probably see the sequel on Thanksgiving Day... 🙂

    November 10, 2008 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  152. Richard from Toronto

    I didn't care much for the family genre before I had kids. However, after they arrived, it became painfully obvious to me how few family movies there are out there. This is the main reason why any family film that is release does so well on its opening weekend–parents are desperate to get their kids out of the house in an effort to keep them entertained. If there were a steady stream of family movies being released, instead of once every one or two months, then the makers would be forced to ensure their product is of quality in order to make it stand out from the rest.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  153. Jenny

    I really think there is such a dearth of good, non scary films right now. I mean really in Madagascar 2, issues of sacrifice and death for the 8 and under crowd? I think it is one reason for the success of HSM3 – there was an upbeat happy message that was right on for the audience for which it was targeted. The movies we really enjoyed recently as a family were Rataouille, Wall-E, both similarly sweet. I too hate the pop culture references that are totally inane. I am so absolutely tired of the wise-cracking animals and the totally artificial warmth of some of these movies. As a mother of a just seven year old, I do look forward to going to a movie with her, but I don't very often because there aren't very many good choices out there.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  154. Adam

    For those who critcize films with out seeing them first let me say this: you should try something first before offering an opinion on something you do not understand.

    What is the harm in offering families, especially kids, a decent, wholesome film with a little bit of a message thrown in. In the case of Walle, it is take care of your planet and take care of your self. The film does not hate on fat people but shows the dark side of trashing the planet and doing nothing but eating and watching tv.

    Pixar and Disney are still pumping out good films but there is more of an audience out there than just families.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  155. Rusty Shackelford

    Bubba – if you dislike haters so much, maybe actually WATCH the movie before making negative comments about it. I have seen Wall-E and it did not turn into a "scathing attack on fat people".

    November 10, 2008 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  156. Geeshgirl, Austin

    I refuse to have my kids waste their time (and my money) with anything below Pixar-quality. Even Disney on its own has been sketchy (and what is WITH those straight-to-video releases!!??). Treating them to a movie night with E.T. or King Kong (the original!) beats that any day...

    November 10, 2008 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  157. Jaime

    ANY family film void of violence, vulgar language or sex is a very welcomed reprieve for most parents as you can see by the huge returns on the films mentioned. Society is being mirrored in the films being made by Hollywood and that is sad yet true image being portrayed and I think people are looking for films that have a genuine story that elevates humanity instead of taking us down to the sadness of the reality that society is living in these days. Any movie that focuses more on the goodness we are capable of instead of what we have sadly been made to believe we are only capable of is a very enlightening and very welcomed thing indeed.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  158. Bubba

    I didn't see Wall-E, but apparently it turns into a scathing attack on fat people by the end. I'm actually pretty skinny, but dislike haters. All these 'family films' have some urgent message for you, usually "Buy my product!!" or "Join my Cause!" What they don't have is a story or any kind of appeal to children beyond "and you can get a doll of the mandrill, with inflatable red butt."
    Children aren't born cynical. Cheesy movies about ponies and kittens are fine for them. Stop making "kid movies" for the cynical and evil adults who bring the children and sit through the movies; the KIDS are your audience.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  159. James

    This article is void of a family moviemaker that has excellent quality, creative writing and downright fun music. BigIdea studios has a littany of projects that are about 45 minutes in length, with two full-length projects that are a must see for family movie nights. Check out their latest DVD release "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" for a great family night of pizza/popcorn/video!

    November 10, 2008 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  160. Jonathan

    We rented a sweet family film last weekend that no one has heard of (the clerk at Blockbuster recommended it) called A Lobster Tale. The family, including grandma, really loved the message. After the film the whole conversation was why can't Hollywood make and also promote simple family entertainment.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  161. Robert

    I agree Hollywood has fogotten how to make good films, ESPECIALLY for the elderly. TV is even worst, they make show for idiots and movies with so much background music and noise you have to be under 30 to hear what is being said.

    COME on hollywood and TV let's start making quality stuff and THINK about the elderly, that would be our mothers, fathers, etc

    November 10, 2008 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  162. Katie

    I long for the good ol' days, when kids were treated to films like The Lion King and Beauty And The Beast. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve these films. Perhaps the only comparable animated films now come only from Pixar. Why has there been a downgrade?

    November 10, 2008 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  163. Marilyn

    As Stacie so politely put it, the film makers don't care what the children see. I can see a great decline in morality in the cartoons and even more so the "family films". I don't want to hear the profanity or inuendoes that are so "cleverly" put in these films. Our children have enough negativity in the schools and with their peers that they need something to watch that can override all the negativity they get outside the home.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  164. Carli

    These films are obviously not made to impress parents, no surprise when the reviews are not great. My 5 year old loved Madagascar – and that makes me's not important that I like the movie. I wonder what she would think about the new James Bond movie??

    November 10, 2008 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  165. Judith

    We've stopped seeing any movies except for family films and so have our friends. Why spend our hard-earned $$ on the violent, immoral tripe produced by most of Hollywood?

    November 10, 2008 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  166. Stacie

    Seems to me that American studios take the least amount of time and effort with "family" films. Kids don't care if it's good right? They'll want to see anything if there's enough marketing.

    November 10, 2008 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  167. Bryan

    I agree that the quality of family films has been lower of late, but everything moves in cycles. If I want to watch solid family films with my kids, we watch some older films like The Iron Giant and The Sandlot. However, we seem to always come back to the PIXAR/Disney films.

    November 10, 2008 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  168. Angela Knoll

    Yes! Where are all the wonderful family films of the past? My daughters love "Little Women" and "The Sound of Music" and we watch them over and over together. What happened to movies that are enjoybale to watch that you don't have to wince and cringe at and keep a mental note throughout to discuss your family values afterward? We crave well made movies that teach a good moral lesson at the same time. Character building, inspiring shows that make our time out worthwhile. I know many families that hold the same view.

    November 10, 2008 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |

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